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Introducing Brighton & Hove

Raves on the beach, Graham Greene novels, mods and rockers in bank-holiday fisticuffs, naughty weekends for Mr and Mrs Smith, classic car runs from London, the UK's biggest gay scene and the Channel's best clubbing – this city by the sea evokes many images for the British. One thing is certain: with its bohemian, cosmopolitan and hedonistic vibe, Brighton is where England's seaside experience goes from cold to cool.

Brighton is without doubt Britain's most colourful and outrageous city, and one with many faces. Here, burlesque meets contemporary design; Spanish students leave Starbucks to rub shoulders with stars in Spanish bars; the southeast's grottiest hostels share thin walls with kinky boutique hotels; microbrew ales costing £4 a pint occupy bar space with £1 buckets of 'sex on the beach'; and stags watch drag. This is the city that returned the UK's first Green Party MP, where Valentine's Day is celebrated with more gusto than Christmas, and is the place, according to the 2001 census, with the highest UK population of Jedi.

Brighton rocks all year round, but really comes to life during the summer months when tourists, language students and revellers from London pour into the city, keen to explore the city's legendary nightlife, summer festivals and quirky shops. The highlight for the sightseeing visitor is, without doubt, the weird and wonderful Royal Pavilion, a 19th-century party palace built by the Prince Regent, who kicked off Brighton's enduring love of the outlandish.